Illinois coping with spike in 2020 gun permit applications

Regional News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Applications for Illinois’ Firearms Owner’s Identification card (FOID) have increased 167% from 166,649 in 2017 to 445,945 as of November 2020, the Illinois State Police reported Wednesday, and ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau (FSB) has been overwhelmed with keeping up with the surge.

After first being created by the Illinois legislature 52 years ago, FSB has been tasked with the administration of the FOID card, the concealed carry license (CCL), the Firearms Transfer Inquiry Program (FTIP), gun dealer licensing, appeals, background correlations, investigative support, enforcement and customer service for the firearms safety laws of Illinois.

Demands on the state’s firearms safety system have been outgrowing capacity for years. The number of FOID card holders has grown from 1.2 million to 2.2 million in a decade. CCL holders grew from 90,301 in 2014 to 343,299 in 2020.

This year, the ISP FSB was confronted with a massive work increase across all categories:
• FOID card applications increased 167% from 166,649 in 2017 to 445,945 as of November 2020,
blowing past the small surge in 2013 when CCL was enacted.
• FTIPS increased 45% from 2019, reaching 506,104 so far in 2020.
• ISP FSB processed an unprecedented 64,000+ FTIPs in March 2020 — the largest number recorded
for one month until that record was broken in June with 65,000+ FTIPs.
• More than 400,000 calls came into the FSB Call Center from May to November when a new
automated phone system with metrics was activated.

ISP FSB authorized hiring 32 additional firearms eligibility analysts in February and the additional hiring of 19 temporary contractors, with 21 Firearms Eligibility Analysts hired since March and an additional 11 planned to start in January 2021. It began an active recruiting effort to fill vacant Firearms positions in the FSB and retain employees in these positions hurt by turnover. FSB staff has worked approximately 17,000 hours of overtime.

FSB has also refined application processes using management analytics called Lean Six Sigma or Rapid Results, which has been used successfully across a number of sectors to increase efficiency by removing unnecessary steps and reducing variation. This process has reduced the Forensic backlog by 48%.

ISP provided relief to FOID card holders and CCLs by submitting emergency rules addressing renewals during the COVID-19 epidemic through which FOID cards and CCLs remain valid during the renewal process, if a renewal application was properly submitted by the cardholder.

So far in 2020, FSB has processed 216,805 FOID applications and 50,557 CCLs. It his holding down processing times averaging well below the 72-hour waiting period, even with a 45% increase in FTIP transactions from CY19 to CY20.

FSB has managed to process more new applications were than received in October and November, the first time this has happened in 2020. More than 24,000 applications were processed in November alone.

Average time for processing a FOID application is now 121 days and the average time for a CCL is 145 days. “These outcomes are unacceptable to the ISP,” it said in a statement. “With over 10,000 FOID revocations and with over 4,700 FTIP denials in 2020, enforcement also remains a serious concern. The conclusions presented to the Restore Illinois Commission in October showed the varied firearms safety processes that have evolved inconsistently over 60 years must be integrated into a modern firearms safety structure that efficiently screens applicants and prioritizes safety. This cannot be accomplished without the support of the General Assembly.”

“Illinois should be using less of our resources on an antiquated, outdated, inefficient, ineffective renewal process from the 1960s and more on enforcement against real threats to public safety,” said ISP Director Brendan Kelly. “Our people believe in building a system that makes it hard for the bad guys and simple and safe for the good guys. The Illinois State Police will keep pushing hard, but frankly we will need authority from the legislature to untangle, streamline and integrate the aging patchwork of FOID, concealed carry, firearms transactions, and records checks if we are going to fulfill this mission.”

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